Lake Murray Cup Coverage Day 2 - Major League Fishing

Lake Murray Cup Coverage Day 2

It's cut day in South Carolina
Image for Lake Murray Cup Coverage Day 2
Bryan Thrift Photo by Andy Hagedon. Angler: Bryan Thrift.
August 12, 2017 • MLF • Archives

Quick Links

Full standings – Click here

Day 1 leader story

Day 1 top five patterns story

Tournament details

Event schedule

Event map

Cup roster

Video breakdown of Lake Murray


Watch FLW Live

FLW Live will kick off each morning at 6:30 a.m. ET from the Forrest Wood Cup takeoff at Dreher Island State Park. Coverage will continue through 12:30 p.m., with hosts Travis Moran and Rob Newell commentating from a special on-site set at the Forrest Wood Cup Expo at Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center. All weigh-ins will also be broadcast on FLW Live beginning at 5 p.m.

The Expo

The Forrest Wood Cup Expo runs from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday-Sunday at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center at 1101 Lincoln Street. Be advised that backpacks and large bags are not allowed in the Convention Center.


2:00 – Final update, weigh-in at 5 p.m. ET

We're signing off the day-two coverage blog and heading down to the ramp to greet the anglers – the first flight comes in at 3:15. In the meantime, stay tuned to the photo galleries on the homepage for more shots that are coming in, and then join us for weigh-in at 5 p.m. on FLW Live.


1:20 – Thrift culls, Atkins still searching

Bryan Thrift landed a 2 1/4 for a nice cull. Tournament leader Justin Atkins hasn't seen much action in awhile. He's probably laying off a little to avoid burning his schools. Right now, he has a narrow lead over Anthony Gagliardi.


1:00 – It's time to hunt a kicker

For many of the pros at the Forrest Wood Cup, the final two hours of fishing comprise time to try and finish a limit or make a last-ditch effort at catching a limit. For Justin Atkins, Anthony Gagliardi, Brandon Cobb, Travis Fox and Scott Martin, these waning hours and minutes are about hunting one last bonus kicker up shallow, or checking schools offshore to see what's there for tomorrow. We're winding down, and those pros have established themselves as the favorites to take home the big silver Cup on Sunday.

We also received an update that some areas upriver have been blown out by mud from last night's rains, and that's hurt the bite. Wesley Strader did his damage up there yesterday afternoon, but he caught his fish this morning down the lake. When he ran upriver after lunch today, he encountered the mud and hasn't been able to put much of an afternoon bite together.

A few other updates:

Chris Jones, the big Oklahoman, has a third keeper in the box, this one a 2-pounder. And he just added No. 4 for another 2 pounds.

Also, Kyle Alsop landed a 1 1/2 for his second.

Greg Bohannan landed No. 3, a 1 1/4.


12:49 – Birge, Sprague, Stefan, Alsop catching

Zack Birge got his fourth keeper of the day, a 2 1/2 pounder. Meanwhile, Matt Stefan got on the board with a small keeper, and Jeff Sprague landed No. 4 – a 1-pouder that chomped a drop-shot. Kyle Alsop also got his first keeper. It'll go 1 1/2 pounds.

Also, since the last update was done, Bryan Schmitt landed a fourth keeper with a drop-shot in a cane pile in the mid-lake area. It'll go 2 3/4.


12:43 – More boat traffic taking its toll, Gagliardi dealing with traffic again

Michael Neal isn't too concerned about local boat traffic, but other pros might be feeling a little more crowded. Reportedly, a local in a johnboat was watching Gagliardi fish earlier, sitting nearby. When Gagliardi came back, the boat was sitting right on his juice. That's just part of it sometimes, but it's still another challenge for the 2014 champ to overcome.


12:23 – Top pros sharing water

It's a beautiful day out on the water, but boat traffic hasn't gotten too bad. Down at the lower end, Michael Neal's bite has slowed. He thinks it might be because of the sunshine, but also he's sharing water with about five other top pros. Maybe the fishing pressure is starting to take its toll.

Up the river, Austin Felix found a willing 3-pounder after a long run to get away from the crowd.


Bryan Thrift

12:15 – Thrift culls, catch the last of the live show

Bryan Thrift made a small improvement recently. If you were watching FLW Live, then you saw it happen. If not, get on over to the live show and watch the final minutes as hosts Travis Moran and Rob Newell break down the day's action.

Scott Suggs just landed his fourth, a 2-pounder that fell for a pencil popper.

Jason Reyes is up to four keepers for just shy of 12 pounds, and Mark Rose has upgraded to 12 pounds.


12:06 – Midday flurry

Apparently there's been a middy ignition on the bite, because we've gotten a lot of updates lately.

Here are the most recent:

Casey Scanlon just landed a nice 4 1/2 up the river. It's his second keeper.

Michael Neal landed his eighth keeper of the day for a small upgrade.

Jason Reyes caught his second. It's a 3 1/2-pounder. He's on the schooling bite, too.

Right now, there are only three or four patterns in play. Bryan Thrift has been fishing a worm in brush. The topwater bite for schoolers is still strong and probably the most popular approach. There's a shallow power-fishing pattern, fishing topwater, creature baits and crankbaits. And then there's a decent dock bite, though it's really slowed down in the last little bit.


11:53 – Lotsa updates

Brandon McMillan landed his fourth keeper for a total 5 3/4 pounds.

Cody Meyer has four, his latest a 1 1/2-pounder that he caught on a soft jerkbait near takeoff.

Darrel Robertson landed his fourth. We haven't heard a weight estimate yet.

Bryan Schmitt's third keeper was a schooler that ate a topwater and bumped him to 7 3/4 pounds.

Joey Cifuentes has gotten on the board with a 2-pounder.

Scott Suggs is up to three fish for about 6 pounds.

Clark Reehm has four fish for 12 pounds. He's on a roll, catching good quality fish.


11:43 – Robertsonn, Lawyer and Shin

Darrel Robertson landed his third keeper, a 2-pounder. Jeremy Lawyer ran up hte river and finished out his limit with a 3-pounder. Also, Shin got his first keeper, and it looks like a 3 1/2.


11:36 – BIG TIME UPDATE on Gagliardi

Well, it turns out that our marshal who's following Gagliardi had a case of small eye, too. Gagliardi's estimate was 11 1/4, but he actually has more like 15 1/2. That moves him into second place and only a half-pound behind tournament leader Justin Atkins.

Elsewhere, Canterbury has a limit for 8 pounds, and Travis Fox landed another nice keeper – a 5-pounder. Marshall Deakins landed a 3 1/2-pounder.

You better check out the current estimated leaderboard, because this thing is really close: CLICK HERE


11:32 – Scott Martin on "crowd control"

Apparently Scott Martin is taking a slightly different approach than his competition when it comes to directing boat traffic on his holes. While others are asking boats to stay farther away, Martin is hollering at them to come closer so they can better cheer him on when he lands a fish. Quite the showman, he is.


Clark Wendlandt

11:30 – Checking on the pack

Bradley Dortch is on a pretty strong run. He just cuaght another solid 2 1/2-pound or so fish to fill his limit.

Cody Bird is stuck on two keepers, but he's making a change and is now throwing a deep-diving crankbait around a bridge.

Cody Meyer landed his third keeper, a 3-pounder for 7 pounds total.

Clark Wendlandt has a limit for about 8 1/2.


11:15 – Suggs and Jones score No. 2

Scott Suggs jand Chris Jones each landed a second keeper. Suggs' fish is a 2-pounder caught on a drop-shot. Jones caught a 1 1/2.

Also, Brandon McMillan landed his third fish at 1 1/4 pounds, for 3 3/4 total.


11:00 – Quick updates

We're halfway through the day, and what a day it's been. We've got uber-hammers battling at the top, trading blows with quick flurries of schooling activity.

Justin Atkins still leads with about 37 pounds, followed by Brandon Cobb with 36 1/2, Anthony Gagliardi with 32 and change, Scott Martin with 31 and change and Michael Neal with 30 1/4.

A few other updates:

Mark Rose has culled up to 11. Cody Meyer landed a 2 1/2 for his second keeper, working a topwater under bright skies. Scott Canterbury caught No. 4 up the river. It's a 1 3/4-pounder. Clark Wendlandt's fourth bumps him up to 7 1/2.


10:53 – Gagliardi upgrades

If you're watching FLW Live, you just saw a pretty cool sequence with Anthony Gagliardi. He was fishing with a spinning rod, saw some fish blow up, swapped rods to a pencil popper and fired into the fray. He took probably two minutes to fight the fish down, but it wasn't actually a giant. It was just a foul-hooked fish. He upgraded by a half-pound or so.

Elsewhere, Clark Wendlandt is fishing a creature bait up the Saluda, and just landed his third keeper for a total of 6 pounds. Dortch's fourth weighs 2 1/4.


Justin Atkins

10:36 – Atkins has more than we thought, Cobb upgraded big

Justin Atkins has a case of small eye. Our estimate for him was 13 1/4 pounds, but he just weighed his fish, and he actually has about 15 1/2. His last keeper came off in the net, and he caught another that didn't help him. Atkins was momentarily up big based on that new math, but Brandon Cobb just upgraded by 2 pounds and closed the gap to a half-pound.

Also, JT Kenney has an 11-pound limit of schooling fish.

Terry Bolton landed a 2 1/4 on a buzz bait, while Cody Meyer caught a 2-pounder for his first keeper. Meyer's ate a soft jerkbait.


10:32 – Gags upgrades, Atkins goes big

Gagliardi no more than got No. 5 in the box before he landed another keeper and upgraded by a half-pound. His total is pushing 11 pounds.

Justin Atkins is back on track to keep his lead. He finished out his limit with a 3-pounder and moved back into the unofficial first-place spot.

Austin Felix finished his limit with a 2-pounder. And Clark Reehm has three for 9 pounds.


10:30 – Is it moving time?

We've gotten updates from several anglers, including Suggs and Felix, who are changing it up or running long distances to new waters. Most of the bottom half of the field, and even the bottom half of the top 20, has been slow, slow, slow today, so maybe a changeup will spark some action. It worked for Felix. He just moved to the bank and landed his fourth keeper.

Gagliardi also finished out his limit with a 1 1/4.

Dorth landed a 1 1/2 for No. 3.


10:20 – Gags gets another

Gagliardi was retying when he heard a fish bust. He picked up a pencil popper, fired out and hooked up. The fish looked to be about 2 1/2 pounds or so. It's his fourth.

Dortch's second keeper weighs 2 pounds.

Neal upgraded by about 3/4 pound to 14 1/4.


10:15 – Gagliardi gets No. 3

It's been a bit of a slow morning for Gagliardi, who's dealing with a pretty large armada of chase boats, but he just popped another keeper. It's not big, but it'll help.

Michael Neal is up to 14 1/4 pounds. He's had two really good days here on Murray.

Jeremy Lawyer added a 1 1/2-pounder.

Bohannan has two fish for 3 1/4 pounds.


Scott Martin

10:10 – Mark Rose has a limit, big things coming for Martin?

After a tough day one, Mark Rose has rebounded on day two and has a nice limit in the box. He has a mountain to climb to make the cut, but with the way this season has gone for Rose, if anyone could climb out of the cellar and make a big comeback, it's him.

According to Byron Velvick, who's helping host the FLW Live show, Scott Martin's best action has come in the afternoon. With the way his morning has gone, if he can upgrade this afternoon, he just might put together a massive limit.

A few more updates: Aaron Britt just landed another nice one for No. 4 It's a 3-pounder. And Andrew Upshaw landed a 3 1/2 with a wacky rig.


10:03 – Quick updates

Thrift is culling. He has 8 pounds.

Michael Neal landed his fifth keeper and has about 13 pounds.

Andy Morgan, Andrew Upshaw and Bradley Dortch each landed a small keeper for No. 1.

Mark Rose's fourth fish is a 2 1/4.

Travis Fox has four for 10 pounds.

Some pros are targeting schoolers with hard jerkbaits, though soft jerkbaits and topwaters are certainly more popular. Up shallow, it's still a buzz bait/buzz frog game.


Justin Atkins

10:00 – The Expo is open, details on Atkins and Gagliardi

Gaglardi thinks the cloud cover might help his bite, but he has made a change in tactics. He's fishing a drop-shot on a spinning rod now.

Atkins is hitting a spot for two minutes at a time before running on to the next spot.

By the way, the Cup Expo is now open at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center. Go check it out.


9:58 – There's a tad bit of wind now as Cobb, Atkins and Martin duel

The three pros at the top of the leaderboard are all experts at chasing offshore schoolers, which explains their success here this week on Lake Murray. Cobb is still out front, with about a 2-pound lead over Justin Atkins, who was the day-one leader. Scott Martin is another half-pound behind Atkins.

There's a slight condition change to report now. The wind has picked up a little bit, and some more cloud cover is setting in now. We'll have to wait and see if that changes the bite.


Aaron Britt

9:47 – Cobb Culls, Aaron Britt scores on a 3

Brandon Cobb just pushed his lead a little bit farther. He needed about 45 minutes to catch another, but it was a good trade – a 3 for a 1 1/2. He seems really confident that he's going to continue to catch fish on his topwater and upgrade even more. He's also incredibly calm and collected.

"I never get too worked up when fishing," he told the FLW Live audience.

Elsewhere, Aaron Britt got on the board with a good one, a 3-pounder.

Scott Canterbury landed a 2 1/2 for No. 3.

Joel Richardson lands a second keeper for 4 1/4 total.

Cody Bird grabbed his second keeper with a crankbait in the back of a creek. It's a 1 1/4.

Jeremy Lawyer's second is a 1 1/4.

Clark Reehm has two for 6 pounds.

Roy Hawk's pair of keepers total 8 pounds. He lost another good one at the boat.


9:36 – Cobb loses a 3-pounder

Brandon Cobb lost a decent one just a few minutes ago that was probably a 3-pounder, but maybe even bigger. It's so hard to tell when they leap out of the water and shake the bait.

Elsewhere, Bryan Schmitt landed a 3-pounder for his second, and James Watson's second weighs 1 1/2. Bryan Thrift is the king of the 1 1/2-pounders today. He has a limit of them.

Austin Felix has had pretty good luck by rotating around and coming back to his key areas. Apparently, giving them a break once in awhile helps the spot to turn back on. He just did it again and landed a 2 1/2 for his third keeper.

Matt Arey's third weighs 1 3/4.

Greg Bohannan is on the board with a 1 1/2.


Scott Martin

9:22 – Atkins narrows the lead, Scott Martin climbing

Justin Atkins' fourth bass, a 3-pounder, narrows Brandon Cobb's unofficial lead to only a quarter-pound. Cobb's bite has slowed, but it's still way early. Both are throwing topwater and keying on cane piles and other offshore, isolated pieces of cover.

Scott Martin, meanwhile, has four fish for 13-plus pounds, which puts him in third place overall. We got two reports on his kicker fish, one that it was a 6-pounder, and another that it was a 4 1/2. If it's the former, he's in really good shape.

Pat Fisher landed a 2 1/2-pounder for his second.

Bradford Beavers has culled already to get up to 11 pounds.

Also, Travis Fox just landed No. 3. No weight report yet, but it's coming.


9:18 – Dock migration

A few pros who started the morning on schooling bass have moved to docks and other shallow targets now. Larry Nixon is among them. Midday is usually a good time to start fishing docks, once the sun gets high and creates a distinct shade line. It might be a tad early for it, but we'll see. Sprague and others have landed a few around docks while fishing buzz baits for fish that were out foraging this morning. The sky is still overcast near Dreher, but it's sunny in other areas of the lake. That might make it better up shallow.

Quick update: Joel Richardson landed his first for 1 1/2.


Full standings – Click here


Travis Fox

9:14 – Fox fishing the "Momma Spot"

Travis Fox is in the hunt for the Cup, and this morning his mom gave him some advice: Fish the "Momma Spot." It's a place that he found during practice and gave the nickname Momma Spot because his mom, who was riding along, predicted it'd be good. So far, the Momma Spot has been productive. Fox landed two keepers there this morning.

Quick updates:

Mark Rose – third fish weighs 1 1/2

Jamie Horton – three fish for 4 1/2


Wesley Strader

9:07 – Wesley keeps chipping away

Wesley has finally figured out the topwater bite on the lower end. He just popped Nos. 4 and 5, a 2-pounder and 3-pounder, respectively. His fish are all good quality for a total of about 13 1/2 today.

Clark Reehm has a 2-pounder.

Bryan Thrift has three 1 1/2-pounders in the box.

Michael Neal boated a real solid fish. It's a 4-pounder, and he caught it on a soft jerkbait.

Cody Bird popped a 2 1/4-pounder.


Anthony Gagliardi

8:56 – Atkins gets back after it

Justin Atkins has his third in the box. This one weighs about 2 pounds. He has around 7 total. He trails his roomate Brandon Cobb by about 3 1/4 pounds.

Elsewhere, Darrel Robertson has two 1-pounders, and Michael Neal ladned a 2 3/4 for his third. Pat Fisher buzzed his frog by the right 1-pounder to get on the board.


Matt Arey

8:48 – They're heating up now

Fishing seems to have picked up across the board, for both shallow and deep bass. Maybe the sunshine is helping things after what was a little slower morning immediately after takeoff. Michael Neal just landed a 2-pounder. Matt Arey caught one that was a half-pound bigger. And JT Kenney added two more, for a total of about 5 1/2 pounds.


8:40 – Gags gets on the board, much sunnier today

Anthony Gagliardi is on the board this morning with two pretty good fish for about 5 pounds total.

He's chasing Brandon Cobb, who now has about 30 boats on his tail.

Bradford Beavers is the only pro besides Cobb with a limit. he has 10 pounds total today.

Sprague has his third keeper, landed on a buzz bait, and it weighs 1 1/2 pounds.

Jason Reyes has a 3 3/4.

Chris Jones has one for 1 1/2 pounds.

Mark Rose has two for 3 pounds.

Today has been much sunnier than yesterday. There's some scatterd cloud cover, but overall it's much brighter.


8:25 – Cobb has a limit, takes the lead

Brandon Cobb's fifth fish is a 2-pounder. He's up to about 12 1/2 pounds today, and 32 pounds total. He's out in front of this derby. Justin Atkins, who led yesterday, has two keepers for 5 pounds.

Austin Felix bounced around to a few spots without any luck, ran back to his starting area and landed back-to-back keepers of 1 1/4 and 3 1/4 pounds.

Jeff Sprague cracked a nice 4-pounder on a buzz bait up on the bank.

Travis Fox has a pair of keepers for 6 1/2 pounds.

Jamie Horton has two for 3 pounds.

JT Kenney's first keeper weighs 2 1/2 pounds.


Roy Hawk

8:21 – Hawk is hammering

Roy Hawk was confident coming into the tournament, but really struggled yesterday, catching only two fish for 4-1. Today he's already landed a 4 1/2 and a 3 1/2, the latter coming on a jerkbait.

Scott Martin is getting dialed in, too. His latest fish weighs 2 pounds.

Zack Birge now has three keepers, but they ain't big. He has 4 pounds total.


8:17 – Scott Martin scores big

Martin just landed a kicker fish – at least 4 1/2, but maybe 5. He landed it on a topwater.

Clark Wendlandt has a 2-pounder that he caught up the Big Saluda on a buzz bait. McMillan is also throwing a buzz bait and now has two keepers for 2 1/2 total.

Cobb is trying to get another school going, but he thinks his fish might be underneath some of his spectator boats.


8:08 – Schoolers and buzz frogs

We haven't had any reports of bass caught on buzz baits yet today, but buzz frogs or toads have produced several keepers. Walking plugs have done the most damage. Cobb is chucking one, as is Wesley Strader. Strader seems to be on really good quality fish. Cobb has a couple small ones, but also has one that goes 4-plus. He's giving his best spot a break, but is trying to encourage his chase boats to not drive over his fish while he's gone.

Elsewhere, Darrel Robertson has his first for about a pound, while Shane LeHew has one for 2 pounds. Zack Birge has one for 1 1/2 pounds. Travis Fox has one, but not report on size yet.


8:00 – Cobb on a tear, Strader picking off quality fish

It took Brandon Cobb about five minutes to sack up four keepers for about 7 3/4 pounds. He's got a school going, and it's one after another coming to the boat.

Wesley Strader continues his upward trend with a pair of 3-pounders caught on topwater.

Jeff Sprague has a 2-pounder. He caught it on a buzz frog.

Allen Boyd has a barely keeper that probably weighs a pound. Mark Rose's first is a little better at 1 3/4. And Brandon McMillan has a 1 1/4-pounder.


7:54 – Neal, Hawk connect

Michael Neal finally connected on a schooler. He has a 2 1/2-pounder in the box.

Meanwhile, Roy Hawk, who struggled on day one, landed a 4 1/2-pounder to start off his comeback bid.

Bryan Thrift has just one keeper, and it weighs 1 1/2 pounds, while Brandon Cobb has a single small keeper that he had to measure. Jeremy Lawyer has about the same.

Bryan Schmitt popped a 2 1/2-pounder on a soft jerkbait.


7:40 – Strader starts early

Yesterday it was lunchtime before Wesley Strader landed a keeper. Then he went on an afternoon tear and wound up bringing in more than 14 pounds that he caught upriver on a crankbait. He figured something out for sure. This morning, he got off to a much faster start by running down the lake and throwing topwater. He's got a 2 3/4-pound fish in the livewell.

Scott Martin also has a ncie one in the box. It'll weigh 2 1/2 to 3 pounds. Looks like Martin is fishing under some nice sunshine wherever he started this morning.

James Watson also has one – a 2 1/2 – that he caught on a topwater while running the bank.

Cox has his first keeper, a 1 1/2-pounder he caught on a weightless Senko.


Justin Atkins

7:36 – Schooling activity, and shallow power

It's a topwater kind of morning again. Pros are hunting schoolers on open water, scanning areas and waiting for a bust before bombing a cast. Up shallow, it's mostly a buzz bait getting hte call.

Bradford Beavers is on the topwater program. He just landed his third keeper for a total of 7 pounds.

Larry Nixon is offshore. he landed a 1 1/2 for his second keeper.

Scott Canterbury's second is the same size.

Tournament leader Justin Atkins is on the board with a 2-pound keeper. He just left his starting spot. He'll need to start strong to hold off local favorite Anthony Gagliardi, who, by the way, has about 20 boats following him on the lake.


7:26 – First updates

They're getting after it early, but nothing yet for the leaders.

Michael Neal missed a good one on a topwater. Meanwhile, Matt Arey stuck a chunky 2-pounder, and Scott Canterbury has a 1-pounder.

Scott Suggs busted a rod while swinging a striper in the boat. There sure were a lot of stripers caught on Murray yesterday. They sometimes run with the largemouths.

Casey Scanlon got on the board with a 2 1/2-pound largemouth caught in the back of a mid-lake creek.

Bradford Beavers has a pair of keepers in the boat, both 2-pounders.

Shane LeHew is on the board early with a 1 1/2-pound keeper.

Terry Bolton has had the best start of the day. He went shallow and landed a 5-pound kicker.

Finally, Larry Nixon, the General, has a 2 3/4-pound bass in the livewell.


7:15 – They're off

Rookie FLW Tour pro Justin Atkins leads the charge on day two of the Forrest Wood Cup at Lake Murray in Columbia, S.C. He's got a crew of standouts behind him, hoping to catch the young gun going into Sunday's final round.

Current conditions on Lake Murray are humid, muggy, sticky – whatever you call it, it's hot. Skies are overcast, and there's not a lick of wind to speak of.

The air temp at takoeff was 77, with a forecast high of 90 degrees. There's a chance of scattered thunderstorms starting around the time anglers will check in, and lasting into the evening.

We'll see how it affects the bite. Overall, conditions are forecast to be very similar to yesterday, and the field flat out cracked 'em on Friday.



Temperature at takeoff: 74 degrees

Forecast high: 87 degrees

Sky: cloudy

Precipitation: 10 percent chance early, rising to 25 percent, with storms forecast for the evening

Wind: calm


Tournament details

Format: All 53 pros will compete for two days, with the field cut to the top 10 pros on day three. The winner is the person with the highest cumulative three-day weight.

Takeoff Time: 7 a.m. ET

Takeoff Location: Dreher Island State Park, 3677 State Park Road, Prosperity, SC

Weigh-In Time: 5 p.m. ET

Weigh-In Location: Colonial Life Arena, 801 Lincoln Street, Columbia, SC

FLW Live: 6:30 a.m. ET to 12:30 p.m. ET all three days

Complete details